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Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention Hardcover – October 5, 2010

51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In this funny, well-written memoir, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and former foreign correspondent Ellison describes life after she learns that her 12-year-old son, Buzz, suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and that she’s got it, too. Looking back, the Stanford graduate sees the signs, even in her choice of profession. Who needs Ritalin when you can cover coups? Ellison expertly weaves together her family’s story (at one point her son grabs a huge butcher’s knife, waves it at her, then holds it against his own throat) with interesting information about impulsive behavior (the ancient Greeks used leeches to treat it because they thought it was caused by too much red blood). She gives her take on treatments they tried, and gives thumbs down to food additives (they appear to increase hyperactivity) and stimulants (at least for Buzz, they cause terrible insomnia), and thumbs up to neurofeedback, meditation, and a new pet dog. Parents of kids with ADHD should find comfort in this book, which combines helpful information on the disorder with Ellison’s personal story. --Karen Springen

About the Author

Katherine Ellison is a Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative journalist, former foreign correspondent, writing consultant, author of four books, and mother of two sons. Her most recent writing has focused primarily on neuroscience and the environment.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Voice; First Edition edition (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401340881
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401340889
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #421,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My dream from the time I was 13 and read I.F. Stone's essays and Oriana Fallaci's interviews was to be a foreign correspondent, and I was lucky enough to realize that dream. I covered the Philippine revolution against the Marcos dictatorship for the San Jose Mercury News in the 1980s and won a Pulitzer for International Reporting for my part in a series about corruption by the Marcoses. Then from 1987-'92 I was bureau chief in Mexico City for the Mercury News and Knight Ridder Newspapers, its parent company, after which I spent 7 years in Rio reporting on South America for the Miami Herald and KRN. These days I combine writing about neuroscience and the environment with raising two high-maintenance kids.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Momof2 on October 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book last night on my nook. It was the first book I've ever bought on an electronic reader and I'm already a little sad because this is a book that I want to pass around to others. I'm a school counselor, a mother of 2 young boys, and I very much relate to how Katherine feels while raising her children. It was nice to see that the curtain has been drawn back - to show the inside of a family struggling to like a child that they love. I love the research that she did for this book, her casual, yet intellectual way of presenting information, and she seems to be very current on her research.

I love how she approaches helping her son from a systematic view. He's not the only one that is making bad choices and she recongizes this - and starts to change the way she views situations, her son, and her reactions.

If you are struggling with a child that is suffering from ADD, or that you THINK might be suffering from ADD, buy this book. Read it, feel less alone, and you'll get great information on how to help the most important person in your life.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By BeatleBangs1964 VINE VOICE on August 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Buzz" is a book that is refreshingly real, devoid of trite sentimentality and a self congratulatory tone. It is extraordinarily well researched and maintains a hopeful, yet serious and objective tone at all times. At no attempt is any effort made to sugar coat the problems that Buzz's (born 1995) ADD/ADHD cause him and how ADD/ADHD impacts his brother Max (b. 1998) and Katherine and Jack Ellison.

Katherine Ellison is a gifted writer who brings to the table her years of experience as a freelance writer. She was born in 1957 when the world was just coming to terms with "hyperactivity" as ADD was then called. She recognizes these problems in her son Buzz as well as the additional diagnostic onus of Oppositional Defiance Disorder or ODD. Buzz knows how to rile people up and, in one memorable meltdown he had when his Game Boy was taken away, Buzz, then 9 called Child Protective Services to report abuse.

All of this was taking place when Katherine was recovering from cancer, which she successfully battled twice during the boys' early years. Even so, Katherine and Jack never flag in their quest to help Buzz. Treatments include medication and neurofeedback, both of which have positive effects on their son.

Max, as do many siblings of children with major problems delighted in hounding and harassing Buzz, in turn pushing Buzz' buttons. I admit I did derive a certain amount of satisfaction when Max, after scratching Buzz' face was made the butt of a clever prank by Buzz. Buzz set Max' clock to ring at 2:00. At times, I thought Max was asking for it, like when he said in response to Katherine calling him her angel that "Buzz was their devil" and that he, Max "was a good guy and Buzz was a bad guy.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Silicon Valley Girl on August 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The only thing more exciting than being the first person to review a book on Amazon is being the first reviewer of a book that deserves five stars. "Buzz" has everything going for it: It's well written, scrupulously researched, and it tells an engrossing and hopeful story -- without being saccharine or "inspirational."

The deal: Katherine Ellison, freelance writer and married mother of two preteen boys, has attention deficit disorder (ADD). Her older son, called "Buzz" in the book, has ADD too, as well as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). He's an expert at pushing her buttons. After one particularly bad parenting moment, Ellison decides that for her next book, she will use her journalistic skills to learn more about how her son's mind works -- and, hopefully, how to help him. Over the next year or so, Ellison researches ADD/ADHD and, to a lesser extent, ODD. She and her son also try several ADD treatments, including medication and neurofeedback. (They both help a lot, by the way.)

"Buzz" contains a lot of the information you might find in a standard "how to parent your ADD/ADHD" child book. But what makes it worth five stars is that it's really about Ellison's own journey toward understanding her son and herself. In the process, her relationship with Buzz improves tremendously. Probably not coincidentally, Buzz's behavior improves as well, although at no point does Ellison suggest that he's becoming an angel. Ellison never offers a prescription for "curing" ADD or ODD, but she does talk about what works.

This isn't just a book about ADD. It's also about mindfulness, compassion, love -- and getting stuff done. Anyone who lives and/or works with kids could both enjoy it and benefit from it. I'd particularly like to send a copy to my son's fifth-grade teacher -- in fact, I think I will.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Preprandial_Cocktail on November 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Holy Crap! Who knew that reading about the life of another mom with an ADHD son could make me feel SO GOOD. I feel so much less alone. Her son is my son. And just hearing that someone else has my life helped me. But the message about being calm - reacting calmly even to my son's worst behaviors - is really invaluable too. It's just something that is so hard to do when you're an island. But suddenly I feel less alone, less like an island. I'm able to calm my reactions significantly just for having read the book!

This book is somewhat like a guide too. I mean, who else but Katherine Ellison is going to have the money and time to research it all and get down to the "this helps, this doesn't". Invaluable! I would really like to personally thank her for the effect this book has had on my life already (just finished it last week) and on my son's life and for the lessons that I believe will last a lifetime.
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